The test work is taking place at a ALS Metallurgy facility in Perth, Australia. The pilot uses a new optimised flotation regime that has been developed and scaled up.
“The start of pilot plant processing is a major milestone for the company and Mkango joins the ranks of the very few rare earths projects that have been advanced to this stage of development,” said William Dawes, Mkango chief executive.
Mkango commences pilot plant processing of bulk sample from #Songwe #RareEarths project; feasibility study on track; scoping studies completed for separation plant; #Neodymium breaks through $100/kg overnight #MKA #Malawi #HyProMag https://t.co/SMiUItvORV pic.twitter.com/Iu3arEvoo5
— Mkango Resources (@MkangoResources) February 24, 2021
Additionally, the company noted that preparations have begun for hydrometallurgical pilot testing at ANSTO, also in Australia, to process rare earth mineral concentrate produced from the flotation pilot plant.
Lead engineer SENET, a subsidiary of DRA Global Group, is continuing design and engineering studies in parallel with the Songwe feasibility study which is due in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Mkango added that scoping studies for rare earth separation have been completed.
The company also highlighted a “very favourable market backdrop” with rising rare earth prices and concerns over security of supply, and accelerating demand geared to growth in green technology applications.
“Mkango is uniquely positioned in the rare earths sector with an integrated ‘mine, refine, recycle’ strategy encompassing sustainably sourced rare earths from Malawi, rare earth magnet recycling in the UK, via its interest in HyProMag, and strategic options to develop EU and UK rare earth separation and refining capacity,” Dawes said.
“Rare earth prices have risen significantly over the recent months and the demand outlook is very positive, directly linked to growth in electric vehicles, wind power and other clean technology applications.”